Direct Mail Campaigns of the Year: World Vision & The National Humane Education Society
Response Rate: 7 percent
Total Cost: $27,343
Income Generated: $140,635
Average Gift: $47.50
Cost to Raise a Dollar: $0.19
“If you care about children in Africa, Asia and the poorest, harshest places on the planet, call World Vision,” wrote Russ Reid’s Tamara Wolf. “But if you have a concern for Americans who suffer from hunger, homelessness and all the consequences of poverty, you are most certainly going to contact your local Rescue Mission or Food Bank.”
The challenge then for World Vision was how to engage donors and gain their support for the organization’s work here in the United States — basically to re-educate donors about the scope of the work that World Vision does.
“This campaign had to have more than a clutter-busting look and feel,” Wolf wrote. “It had to reverse perceptions about World Vision itself. On one hand, it needed to be clearly aligned with who this organization is and their driving mission. On the other hand, it had to destroy the assumption that World Vision is so globally focused that they are not the best choice for American aid.”
While the package focuses on Family Food Kits that, for $16, provide a family of five with three nutritious meals, and it includes a card to sign and return for a family receiving the donor’s gift, our judges were most impressed with the quality storytelling and compelling images — not to mention the dark and dirty red, white and blue color palette that was at the same time patriotic and somewhat unsettling.
The stories presented paint sad and disturbing pictures that are held together by “one thread of hope.” And that is World Vision’s decades of experience in bringing food and hope to needy people throughout the world. The copy first broke down donors’ hesitation to depend on World Vision’s global expertise to feed people in the United States and then used that same experience as a reason to support it — a fundraising coup d’état that turned an overwhelming weakness into a powerful strength.
Wolf wrote that previous efforts to convert dedicated children-of-the-world donors to supporters of an all-American problem had “flat-out failed.”
Among other great response statistics, Wolf pointed out, “For this client, an acceptable baseline return on investment is a 4:1 income-to-cost ratio, or $4 brought in for every $1 invested. [This package] started with that exact return, but then the returns began to escalate: 6.3 to 1 and finally 23.6 to 1 in the ‘No Child in America Should Go to Bed Hungry’ package.”
The National Humane Education Society
You’ve Got a Friend Campaign
Submitted by: CDR Fundraising Group
Number of Recipients: 25,008
Response Rate: 2.82 percent
Total Cost: $10,033
Income Generated: $12,160
Average Gift: $17.27
Cost to Raise a Dollar: $0.83
This seems to be the year for animal appeals that tend toward the simple side, relying on strong images and heart-tugging copy. This package is no exception. According to the folks at CDR, “This package’s success hinged on the effectiveness of the carrier.”
“The teaser was simple with a statement from a dog’s first-person perspective …” CDR’s Lauren Grace wrote. “We paired it with a sad, sepia image of a puppy behind a fence who is making direct eye contact with the recipient. It seems as if the dog is talking directly to the reader. We targeted control animal lists, which are your traditional pet lovers.”
The letter carried the “friend” theme throughout. Plus the package utilized the coupon concept of an already successful check package, along with a perforated, personalized membership card, thereby using proven techniques for this client’s typical audience.
Our judges were equally jazzed by the outer imagery. Judge Dane Grams liked that the image was “strong and not overly sad,” adding, “I love this package.”
As far as results, it seems CDR found quite a few new and generous friends for the animals. The “You’ve Got a Friend” package beat both the check coupon control package and the membership card control package in average gift in every list tested. It also beat the controls in response rate in four out of five lists tested.
“Overall, there was a 25 percent increase in average gift and a 28 percent increase in response rate from the check coupon control to the You’ve Got a Friend package,” Grace wrote. “Also keep in mind that this package did not have rollout pricing. It had the highest cost per piece of the packages — $0.40 — but still managed to maintain the highest net/donor, $3.02.”
The Trust for Public Land
Conservation Champion Relaunch
Submitted by Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey
Number of Recipients: 1,052
Response Rate: 5.2 percent
Total Cost: $13,625
Income Generated: $49,144
Average Gift: $940
Cost to Raise a Dollar: $0.28
Last year, TPL sought to relaunch its mid-level giving programs by upgrading existing and former members of this group, which previously featured a much lower price point. For several years, qualification for the mid-level group required a one-time gift of $1,000 at any point in the donor’s giving history. However, in March 2011, CCAH’s Lon Chapman wrote, “the mid-level group was rebranded as ‘Conservation Champions’ and required an annual commitment of at least $2,000.”
This extremely high-touch package was meant to inspire donors to increase their commitment. The appeal leverages TPL’s semiannual magazine by adding multiple points of personalization and handwriting both on the magazine itself and in the letter.
Our judges approved. Joe Boland wrote, “This was a very personal letter, which is a must to get that $1,000 gift. The annual report issue of the magazine gives donors plenty to engage with. Most important, it worked!”
Indeed, the campaign generated outstanding results: The 5.23 percent response rate was TPL’s highest response rate to a high-dollar mailing in the last five years. “Not only did the campaign generate 55 returns and $51,700 in gross revenue, there were an additional 27 mail gifts from donors who received the package totalling $12,650 in gross revenue made within one month of the drop date,” Chapman wrote. “At the end of the campaign, the number of donors who had given $2,000 within the last 12 months has increased by 23.6 percent.”
Number of Recipients: 7,181
Response Rate: 7.74 percent
Total Cost: $9,553
Income Generated: $39,361
Average Gift: $70.79
Cost to Raise a Dollar: $0.24
The highlight of this package for the CGF was a full-color brochure that included vivid photos and testimonials from people who had been rescued by the Coast Guard. Interestingly, while our judges agreed that this was a winning package, they were torn on the use of the brochure. One said, “Kill brochures!” while another called the brochure the best part of the package.
But there was no argument over the package’s use of emotional stories and vivid imagery, including a letter that put the reader right in the middle of a disaster at sea, opening, “Mayday! Mayday! We’re taking on water!”
“We developed an appeal that highlighted the critical role the Coast Guard plays when disaster strikes at sea,” wrote Robbins’ Robin Riggs. “We created a personalized renewal letter with a strong sense of urgency, [and] we also created a full-color brochure which included vivid photos and testimonials from people who had been rescued by the Coast Guard so we could tell their dramatic stories in their own words.”
The emotionally charged images in the brochure reflect the urgency of the work done by the Coast Guard and helped place the donor on the scene. “The stories depicted accidents that could happen to anyone, anytime — a subtle reminder that anyone who sails can suddenly need the Coast Guard’s help themselves,” Riggs wrote.
This package had a 27.3 percent higher response rate, raised 23.5 percent more total revenue and cost 4.4 percent less per piece than the preceding year’s package, Riggs said. “Plus,” she wrote, “the client felt the brochure was so effective at showing the Coast Guard’s life-saving work that they asked us to print an extra 500 copies so they could use them as a leave-behind piece at another fundraising event.”
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